• Hometalker
  • Columbia, MO
Asked on Apr 3, 2019

How to safely repot Christmas Cactus?

Joy30150932Diane CoverdaleCJ


Is there a trick to repotting without breaking it?

I started my Christmas Cactus from cuttings 8 years ago and haven't repotted it since. I like the size and shape of the pot it's in but assume it needs fresh soil. It has never bloomed. In March I had 2 blossoms start growing but both fell off before opening. Cuttings came from my mother's plant that was previously Grandma's, both are deceased, so I don't want to loose it from mishandling.

5 answers
  • Lynn Sorrell
    on Apr 3, 2019

      they do best when root bound and left alone,don't tolerate being moved even if you just turn them around (especially when in bloom),they need very bright light,keep dry (really dry) between waterings give it some water soluble miracle grow fertilizer 2x a year as one of the regular waterings,no drafts HERE IS ADDITIONAL INFO..........

    Christmas Cactus – Getting Them to Bloom

    What one thinks of as Christmas Cactus is more likely to be Thanksgiving Cactus since it mostly is what is sold around the holidays. Plants that bloom around Thanksgiving are the species Schlumbergera truncata. True Christmas Cactus blooms later into December and comes from the species Schlumbergera x buckleyi, a hybrid produced in the late 1840s in England.

    In addition to bloom time, one can distinguish between the two by examining their stem segments or "leaves". Thanksgiving Cactus segments have sides with pointed lobes along the edges while Christmas Cactus segments are smooth sided and have no pointy edges.

    Bloom form is another indicator of species difference. True Christmas Cactus blooms have purplish anthers, the pollen bearing part of the flowers, whereas the Thanksgiving Cactus has yellow anthers. Don't be confused by the purple tipped stigma present is both. This taller single stigma is where incoming pollen gets deposited for fertilization. For the remainder of this article, "Christmas Cactus" will refer to both species.

    Bloom colors include white, pinky-white, fuchsia with a white throat, fuchsia with a fuchsia throat, red, orangey-red, apricot and yellow. Oddly, white blooming plants will bloom pinkish-white if kept at lower temperatures. For years it was my goal to collect one of each color. I finally succeeded when I obtained a yellow-blooming plant a few years ago. A recent catalogue showed fringed blooming species available for the first time. Christmas Cactus species are long lived and will bloom year after year. Many are even passed down through generations. I have a true Christmas Cactus that blooms a solid fuchsia color and is well over twenty-five years old.

    These plants flower in response to shorter daylight hours. Flowering also is related to nighttime temperatures. Ideal temperature range for flower bud development is between 55 and 60 degrees for a period of six weeks. As long as the temperatures remain in this range, plants will develop buds regardless of daylight hours. To achieve short-daylight induced blooming, place plants in a room that does not have any artificial light source such as lamps. The plants should receive no more than 8-11 hours of light. Plants also can be forced into reblooming each year by using timers to control a shorter light exposure.

    During flower bud formation, stop fertilizing and only water enough to keep the leaves from becoming shriveled. Sometimes my plants reward me with a few more blooms again in March or April. My personal observation is that keeping them on the dry side after flowering is a sort of rest period that, when followed by fertilization, invigorates them into blooming again. If one wishes to force blooms any other time of the year, all that is required is to keep the plants cooler and in the dark for 13-16 hours for about four weeks.

    One of the most frustrating things that can happen is to have flower buds drop off the plant before they bloom. Several different conditions, usually over-watering, insufficient light, or relocating the plant during early bud development can cause bud drop. Years ago I discovered that moving a plant led to the buds "turning" toward the light source and then falling off! Now I leave them alone until the buds are well developed and nearly in bloom before I relocate for viewing enjoyment. I should warn you that any newly purchased plant in bud will most likely drop some buds at home due to the abrupt light source change. Drafts and temperature extremes also can cause buds to drop.

  • CJ
    on Apr 4, 2019

    Lynn and Betty,

    Thank you both for your quick replies. I've already learned a lot and haven't finished ready all of the great information you've provided!

    Both times I found a blossom last month, I turned the pot with the thought that it would protect the blossom bud from being bumped as I walk by... when I should have moved my chair away instead.

    I'll keep reading to learn more about fertilizing my plant.

    Thank you!

  • Diane Coverdale
    on Apr 4, 2019

    Christmas catus blooms for me twice each year,due to either a change in lighting or temperature. Mine is next to a patio door and gets blasted with cold air in the winter when I let my dog outside.

  • Joy30150932
    on Apr 4, 2019

    Your pot should be at least one to 2 inches larger all around the plant to make room for growth. If the plant is really large, an extra pair of hands would help. Lay the pot on its side and gently tug until the whole plant comes loose. Do this when the plant is dry. Put some fresh soil in the pot bottom and then put your plant back. Gently fill in some fresh soil around the plant coming up to the area where the stems come out of the soil at the top. Use a good quality potting soil.

    To get it to bloom, only water in the off season when it is required. They like decent light but not direct hot sun. When you see blooms forming increase the watering a little to help the plant. You can also add a bit of Schultz liquid fertilizer when you water and when blooming. Never overwater as you could rot the plant. If there is drainage then water from the top, let drain and then empty the saucer. I have found that overwatering can promote a lot of growth but deters blooming. Hope this helps.

    • CJ
      on Apr 5, 2019

      Hi Diane and Joy,

      Thank you for your replies! I am getting so much great information and every bit is greatly appreciated!

      It's very interesting that you, Diane keep your plant near your patio door...

      My plant is on a table that sets over a floor vent; I keep a deflector on the vent to redirect it horizontally but there certainly has to be a warm draft in winter and cool draft when the AC is on.

      It's at an east window with direct sun all morning, (when we actually have sunshine, which has been very infrequent so far this year). I pull the blinds across the window only when it gets very hot, which is usually a few days during the summer and open them again once the sun is is no longer directly shining in.

      Joy, I know I have over watered my plant a few times and lost parts of my plant but I have drain holes in the bottom, so as long as I remember to pour off the excess it seems okay. But that means moving the plant. I must be more careful with watering. It's a wonder Dad and I didn't kill the parent plant after Mom passed away.

      I wish I'd had all this help years ago when I first brought my cuttings home.

      Thanks again everyone.

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